Today’s ID the Future is Part 2 of physicist Brian Miller exploring a recent report from the University of Tokyo claiming a big breakthrough in origin-of-life research. As Miller and host Eric Anderson make clear, the university’s laboratory work on RNA, detailed in a recent Nature Communications article, involved the intelligent interference of the lab scientists and, despite this intelligent interference, the devolution of RNA rather than the evolution of increasing RNA sophistication. Miller says that it’s ironic that Steven Novella, a scientist committed to puncturing science hype, seems to have fallen for the hype surrounding this laboratory work. Miller and Anderson go on to discuss critiques of origin-of-life tall-tale claims, critiques coming Robert Shapiro, James Tour, and others. Life, Miller says, requires organizational blueprints and design logics already in place to battle against nature’s relentless tendency toward entropy. Without those sophisticated organizational blueprints already instantiated in living cells and sophisticated molecular machinery, natural forces appear utterly powerless to pull off the kind of creative design work required to move from non-life to life.
On today’s ID the Future physicist Brian Miller and host Eric Anderson continue their exploration of a recent conversation between origin-of-life investigators Jeremy England and Paul Davies on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? radio show. Miller begins with a quick flyover of the many nanotechnologies essential to even to the simplest viable cell. A minimally complex cell is vastly more sophisticated than our best human nanotechnology. What about England’s insistence that real progress has been made in origin-of-life studies since the 1950s? True, Anderson says, but the progress has been principally in better understanding how the simplest cells function, and in figuring out what doesn’t work to blindly evolve life from non-life. That is, the direction of discovery has been to throw cold water on one idea after another for the naturalistic origin of life. Miller then makes an even bolder statement. All the physics for us to have known this were in place more than a hundred years ago. The origin-of-life community just chose to ignore it, perhaps because they were dogmatically wedded to finding a purely materialistic explanation for the origin of the first life. To show why that’s misguided, Miller offers an illustrative story: Imagine that what looks for all the world like an alien spaceship is discovered in the desert. Two groups of scientists decide on radically different approaches to understanding the workings of this mysterious object. Tune in to hear the rest of the story.
On today’s ID the Future physicist Brian Miller and host Eric Anderson explore a recent conversation between physicists Jeremy England and Paul Davies on Justin Brierley’s Unbelievable? radio show. Davies admitted he doesn’t want the origin of life to require divine design, while England argued that his work on non-equilibrium systems offers a promising avenue for explaining the origin of the first life in naturalistic terms. Miller and Anderson demur on both counts. They hold out hope that Davies, having recognized his philosophical bias, will eventually decide to follow the evidence wherever it leads, even if doing so has theistic implications. And as for Jeremy England’s approach, Miller says it’s fascinating work but fails to solve the origin-of-life challenge in naturalistic terms, and for multiple reasons.
On today’s ID the Future, physicist Brian Miller touches on various challenges facing the origin of the first life. He and host Eric Anderson discuss Jeremy England’s origin-of-life ideas and the RNA World Hypothesis, and offer multiple reasons why they are convinced that various proposed mindless processes do not explain the origin of the first self-reproducing cell. Miller urges another approach, one that draws on engineering principles and embraces the evidence in even the simplest cell of highly intelligent engineering.
On today’s ID the Future, host Eric Anderson and physicist Brian Miller, research director for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, discuss a recent debate between YouTube science educator Dave Farina and Rice University synthetic organic chemist James Tour. Tour has argued that no one—not even the most elite of origin-of-life scientists–has a clue how life could have arisen through blind natural forces on the early earth. Farina created a YouTube response on his channel arguing that Tour is wrong and that origin-of-life researchers are well on their way to solving the mystery of life’s origin. Tour then responded in his own YouTube video series. Now Miller and Anderson boil it all down and argue that Tour is right and Farina wrong on multiple levels.
In today’s ID the Future physicist Brian Miller discusses fellow physicist Jeremy England’s book Every Life Is on Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origin of Living Things. Has England made a significant step toward solving the mystery of how life first began? In Miller’s conversation with host Eric Anderson, he argues that while England’s laboratory work is fascinating and innovative, what’s happening in his experiments differs dramatically from what is required of even the simplest life, so much so that the experiments do not shed the kind of light on the mystery of life’s origin that some may hope they do. Moreover, life does certain crucial things with energy that are unknown outside of the biological realm, Miller says, and without those processes available to prebiotic chemicals, it is far from clear how they could ever assemble into the molecular biological machinery essential for the first self-reproducing biological entity.